One of anime’s most recognizable voices is that of Katsuki Bakugou, the quite literally explosive hero-in-training from My Hero Academia. But while Bakugou is characterized by a strained voice and simmering, sometimes violent rage, the actor who voices him, Nobuhiko Okamoto, is calm and engaging. The popular seiyuu, who has also voiced Rin (Blue Exorcist), Karma (Assassination Classroom), and Eiji (Bakuman), among other characters, sat down with us at Anime Matsuri to chat about a couple of his key roles and his shared love for a game one of them plays.
Twwk: You voice two of my favorite characters—Nikaido from March Comes in Like a Lion and Bakugou from My Hero Academia. Which of the two are you more like in real life?
Okamoto: Nikaido fits me more. First of all, I like shogi and share that experience with that character, and secondly, I never tell people to “Go die!” in real life. That’s far from my personality!
Twwk: Speaking of shogi, I hear you’re very good at it. Do you study the game like Nikaido does?
Okamoto: Yes, I learned it. While I can’t do it [in Houston], in Japan, I play every single day.
Twwk: Are you competitive? Or is it more of a relaxing pursuit for you?
Okamoto: I play on an app—Shogi Wars [He showed me his account, which featured Kiriyama—not Nikaido—as his profile pic]. I use the app more often because it makes it easy to play every day. I’ve probably played over 10,000 games on the app! I really like it.
Also, I don’t drink alcohol but I do eat a lot of sweets. I’m trying to use shogi to diet. The brain intakes sugar, so when I use it, it helps me diet. There’s a player who lost 3 kilograms playing shogi.
Twwk: Which would you most rather do for a career: play shogi, sing, or voice act?
Okamoto: I would choose voice actor—I really like my job. I don’t think I would become a singer. I get nervous when I sing because it’s with my name, not some other personality. When I act, I get into the character and it becomes mine, so I don’t really get nervous.
Twwk: Speaking of getting into character, how did you develop Bakugou’s voice?
Okamoto: I don’t really get angry that often. I only have a little bit of hateful emotion inside me, so I try to gather all that negative emotion and push it out like in Dragon Ball Z [shows hand technique for charging a Kamehameha wave].
Twwk: Does that mean Bakugou is a more challenging character than most?
Okamoto: Of all the characters I play, this character is by far the angriest. I have to scream all the time, making it difficult to play.
Twwk: But do you like playing Bakugou?
Okamoto: Yes, I still like it, though I think he might be disliked. At an autograph session, a little girl had a poster and I asked her, “Which character you like the most?” She chose Todoroki over Bakugou! But I think that’s the right choice. I appreciate her honesty.